Potential health effects of odor from animal operations, wastewater treatment, and recycling of byproducts

J Agromedicine. 2004;9(2):397-403.


Complaints of health symptoms from ambient odors have become more frequent in communities with confined animal facilities, wastewater treatment plants, and biosolids recycling operations. The most frequently reported health complaints include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headache, nausea, diarrhea, hoarseness, sore throat, cough, chest tightness, nasal congestion, palpitations, shortness of breath, stress, drowsiness, and alterations in mood. Typically, these symptoms occur at the time of exposure and remit after a short period of time. However, for sensitive individuals such as asthmatic patients, exposure to odors may induce health symptoms that persist for longer periods of time as well as aggravate existing medical conditions. A workshop was held at Duke University on April 16-17, 1998 cosponsored by Duke University, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). and National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to assess the current state of knowledge regarding the health effects of ambient odors. This report summarizes the conclusions from the Workshop regarding the potential mechanisms responsible for health symptoms from ambient odors. Methods for validation of health symptoms, presence of odor, and efficacy of odor management techniques are described as well.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animals
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Odorants / analysis*
  • Public Health*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods*